Knights Under Lights: Alexi Lalas
In Knights Under Lights, The Daily Targum looks at how players who distinguished themselves during their time on the Banks are currently performing in their respective professional leagues.
Alexi Lalas played for the Rutgers men’s soccer team for four seasons, where he developed the skills that would later make him one of the greatest U.S. athletes. From 1988 to 1991, Lalas led the Scarlet Knights to a 71-15-8 record and quickly made Rutgers one of the nation's top programs by acting as an anchor for the defense.
After a quiet freshman season, Lalas helped lift the Knights to a 20-4 record and a trip to the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament in his sophomore season, where Rutgers ultimately suffered a heartbreaking loss to Virginia. Lalas was named an All-American following his stellar season.
He was named an All-American again in 1990 following another 20-win season for the Knights. Rutgers would dominate in the NCAA Tournament and booked its ticket to a showdown against UCLA with the national title on the line.
Locked in a scoreless draw through four overtime periods, the national title came down to a penalty shootout. The Bruins bested the Knights 4-3 in penalties, though Lalas and Rutgers still had a successful campaign after securing the program's first Atlantic-10 Championship.
In his senior season, Lalas became the first Knight to win the MAC Hermann Trophy, which recognized him as the nation’s finest collegiate soccer player. The Knights would finish the season 19-3-1 and secure its first No. 1 ranking in any sport.
Rutgers fell to SMU in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Lalas was once again named a first team All-American for his efforts during the season.
After the 1991 season, Lalas focused all of his attention on his professional career and made his mark with the USMNT in the 1994 World Cup. Against Brazil, the U.S. would fall 1-0. For Lalas, though, the season was just beginning. Shortly after, he signed with Padova and became the first American to compete in the Italian professional league, Serie A.
Across his two seasons with Padova, Lalas would start 44 games and score 2 goals. He would return to the U.S. the following year, as he signed with the New England Revolution in Major League Soccer's inaugural season.
Lalas started in 54 of 55 possible games and collected 3 goals and two assists through two seasons with the Revolution. In 1998 he was again called up by the national team for the 1998 World Cup. In the months after, Lalas signed with the MetroStars — now the New York Red Bulls.
Lalas played more than 1,000 minutes in 12 World Cup Qualifying matches in 1998, but in the actual world cup, the USMNT would fail to escape the Group Stage.
After a 2-goal season with the MetroStars in 1998, Lalas signed with the Kansas City Wizards for a year.
For his incredible success on the Banks, Lalas was named to the Rutgers Athletics Hall of Fame in 1998.
In 2001, Lalas signed with the Los Angeles Galaxy, where he found success leading a formidable defense. Lalas would win the Major League Soccer Championship in 2002, the Galaxy’s first title in four appearances. In three years with the Galaxy, he would rack up 7 goals in more than 50 games played.
Following the 2003-2004 season, Lalas retired with more than 18,500 minutes played in domestic competitions. He was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2006 as one of the nation's greatest and most recognizable players.
Lalas was hired as a lead studio and game analyst for Fox Sports in 2015 and has since made his name known in the world of soccer media.
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